The family of a 70-year-old Publix Deli worker who died after contracting the coronavirus has filed a lawsuit against the establishment after they say their family member was exposed to the virus due to Publix’ refusal to allow him to wear personal protective gear while at work.
The lawsuit that was filed on Monday in the Miami, states that Gerardo Gutierrez was told in March that he could not and did not need to wear gloves or personal protective gear while working in the deli. Trusting Publix, Gutierrez did as he was told but contracted the coronavirus from a sick coworker.
According to the report, a female employee who worked with Gutierrez began exhibiting signs of the virus in late March. She then tested positive for the virus. Publix then made the decision to send Gutierrez home to self isolate. On April 6th, Gutierrez began exhibiting symptoms of the virus an was rushed to the hospital on April 10th. He then died on April 28th.
“Gerardo Gutierrez was told by Publix that he could not wear a mask despite the fact that he wanted to wear one, but he continued to go to work each day because he believed Publix’ statements that it was taking all measures necessary to keep him safe,” attorneys Michael E. Levine and A. Dax Bello wrote. “Publix, however, minimized, downplayed, misrepresented and otherwise concealed the risk posed to its employee by its prohibition on mask and other personal protective equipment.”
The suit also states that Publix ” was more concerned with protecting its sales and profits” and believed that customers would be ” turned off” by seeing employees in personal protective gear which is why they did not allow it.
The family is seeking in excess of $30,000 in damages for Gutierrez’ death.